My zettlekasten workflow with remnote and diigo

I am relatively a beginner with zettelkasten method of note taking. I am also inspired by the blog posts/videos elsewhere that talk about multiple summarising and synthesising of content. I mainly use iPad apps, so Obsidian wasn’t an option. I was using marginnote to create my zettels until I fell in love with Remnote.
Thought I’ll share my evolving workflow here, and earnestly invite comment and feedback.

  1. I do the first pass reading and highlighting in diigo. Being a subscriber I also can highlight PDFs.
  2. If I need more writing on the pages and a second pass connecting of ideas, I export the highlighted content to LiquidText or Goodnotes or iAnnotatePDF or Flexcil or MarginNote and synthesise the concepts further.
  3. I then export the second level synthesis back into diigo.
  4. Now, I’m ready to create zettels in Remnote.
  5. Using iPad split screen, I have Remnote on one side and diigo on another.
  6. Using apple Scribble I try to write the forward card of the concept or descriptor. (If Scribble plays up, I use the floating keyboard and draw the words out which is often faster than writing).
  7. I then copy the relevant highlighted sentence from diigo and paste it in Remnote. (This is very straightforward with pencil. When I touch the highlighted text in diigo, I get a context menu with copy option. When I touch and hover in Remnote, I get context menu with paste option.)
  8. To treat each Rem as a zettel with bibliography, I click on the bullet point to open its page and add the source url to it. Also create tags and REM references.
  9. I’ve not yet gotten around to using portals and templates. I hope this zettelkasten workflow will blossom further with those options.

Cheers,
Brindha

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It makes me very happy to hear from someone who knows about diigo! It’s a great tool! I would love that Remnote Clipper also highlights the texts copied from web pages in the web itself

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I can’t imagine what your sidebar looks like, since adding a source tags the rem as a document.

Incidentally, why diigo over hypothes.is? Seems like you are using RemNote for outlining and organisation anyway, so what exactly are you paying for?

Haha. True that. But I barely use the sidebar. I have a single landing page and various offshoots that tunnel from there. (Like what I used to have in workflowy).
For each REM to be a zettel, I imagine it would need to have source as well as backlinks. It’s convenient that each REM can have a source without it showing up on my page.
(Also not sure why just upon adding a source, the REM terms to automatically become a document and show up in the side bar. This, I guess, could restrict creating each REM as a zettel alongside using its sidebar to navigate. )

Regarding using diigo along with Remnote, as described earlier I used Remnote for my previously twice highlighted and synthesised content. Remnote is third pass.

Regarding diigo vs hypothesis, I’ve been with them for years. I haven’t used hypothesis. Am open to trying out new tools (iPad based). Shall look into hypothesis.

I do wish diigo allows annotation with pen and also has better image capture within notes. I circumvent this drawback by exporting my highlights to one of the apps I’ve mentioned above and them reimport the second level synthesis back into Diigo. I like that I can have unlimited PDFs in there.

Another idea I remember reading elsewhere is to encode all bibliography references as a tag or as separate reference notes, and refer to them in the zettels. As my domain is coding, and have loads of urls as sources, not sure if this ideal as I may end up with 1000s of reference notes. So, currently I find adding url source to each of my REMs useful. I do wish they didn’t all show up in the sidebar.:relieved:

Update: As adding sources to each REM is making the sidebar too long, I’ve started encoding as tags just the book name or the main domain name of the URL. (This misses out on getting to the exact page that my REM is derived from, that would have been if I were able to add the full source url to each REM without it all showing up in the sidebar.)

Workflow update 15th-Nov:
I no longer add sources for each Rem, or branch off from a singular landing page with precurated topics/sources, as I have modified my workflow.

I am now creating a document for each webpage within the daily document. Once document is created, I use Diigo in iPad to highlight the content (because Remnote clipper doesn’t work in iPad.) I then export the highlighted content to the Remnote document where I curate.

Following that I move the rems to appropriate document hierarchy I already have in place in Remnote, leaving behind a portal in the webpage document.

I assume that this will ensure that I have the provenance of each of my rems within that webpage document and not as part of my curated rems; thereby not cluttering the sidebar.

PS. If I’m using remnote clipper when I’m on my desktop, I add the portal for webpage into my daily document and then move the curated rems to corresponding documents therewith leaving another portal behind in that webpage document. Not sure if this is the best method to do this.

Sorry for the long journalling of my workflow. I eagerly solicit any feedback and tips.

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I appreciate that you have kept the details of your work vague for privacy reasons, but if it is at all possible, I would advise you to make a split between archiving and zettelkastening. Personally I use hypothes.is to highlight and annotate everything in situ, then create some drafts to convert highlights and annotations to a load of loosely outlined notes, then see what patterns emerge and link/delete duplicates as appropriate, then move notes from the draft page to a simple structural keynote if they can be “slotted” in appropriately or tag “broad topic>notes” so I know what they broadly refer to and can look them up with some context later. You may add a Sources child to any keynote or note to dump the links to annotated and highlighted articles (so you can, for example, add links back to the publication and see which publications crop up more than others). Since at the moment there is no way to specify what text should be available for full text search, each functionally identical highlight is dead weight that makes linking harder. Use an external dump (hypothes.is in my case) for collecting and having a read list, leave RemNote for actually thinking in writing and organising that writing. Obviously, if you cannot make time to properly convert things you know you need to convert, it’s okay to leave them in your inbox. But if you need to archive, use an archive. Could you imagine if Wikipedia kept every edit visible on the actual page?..

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Thank you so much for sharing your workflow and your valuable suggestions for having a clearly demarcated workflow for archiving vs zettelkastening.

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I should probably add that by default hypothes.is is a bit barebones, but you can add the needed features via these tools that use its API.

I tried Hypothesis cursorily as I love that it is free with loads of similar features. The differences that stand out for me vs Diigo in my short tryst are:

  1. Diigo is an outlining tool with collapsible outliners. You can tunnel through bullet points unlimitedly as you do with Workflowy. Also you can have multiple such outliners (notebooks) similar to Dynalist. Not sure if I can create collapsible outliners with hypothesis.
  2. With Diigo, I can capture images on the fly as I peruse a webpage, that gets added to my outline. In hypothesis there seems to be an intermediate step to copy the image address and add to the annotation.
  3. I can annotate PDFs on the fly by just clicking on the Diigo extension. In hypothesis, it appears I have to convert the PDF into OCR format first.
  4. Diigo has two levels of annotation capture. The first retains the formatting as if it were a screengrab. If you want it into plain text, you can do it within the outliner. It will still retain the original annotations with the formatting. (In hypothesis, it appears that the user can change the formatting as the original capture is plain text.)

In addition, I use MarginNotes to take notes from videos as I can do that with each frame. (iPad only. Am unsure of any windows tool for this.)

Having said all that, I actually would love to replace all these tools with Remnote Clipper as it advances further (as becomes available in iPad, and if it gets PDF annotation capabilities as well); while simultaneously ensuring the demarcation between archiving and zettlekastening that you have advocated.

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Indeed, hypothes.is is mainly text (with markdown and image links) focused, but it is, AFAIK, the largest annotating community, which can come in handy if you can’t be bothered to fact check something yourself. Of course, it can also devolve into pointless arguing. The lack of outlining is by design - the annotations sit in the same place and order for everyone viewing the page.

I also would love to see a cross-platform (and ideally open-source) tool for capturing any media, but for the moment we must make do with an explosion of apps per platform.

Oh, and to take notes on videos on windows you can use YiNote.

Public annotations to draw from would be awesome. Didn’t know about that. Shall definitely dip into that. :pray: :muscle:
In fact, I was wondering if there was a public repository for public Remnotes that we could all share and peruse?
(When I try to share a Remnote page, I see a page of checkbox list of knowledge categories, but then it says the Remnote community is closed. )

There is also this page reviewing many annotation tools:

https://getmemex.com/ is similar to hypothes.is. I haven’t used it but it looks a bit more polished.

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There are some mockups for shared remnote documents like Anki decks (sorry I can’t find the actual page at the moment, @hannesfrank, if you would be so kind, could you add all the remnote “secret” pages like trash and cards to your awesome list?), and I do believe you can share user to user at the moment.

Their public annotations are in early access, will keep an eye on it.

I did.

I guess I should link it on the main page too. @Brindha is right though https://www.remnote.io/community is disabled right now. Means the devs are reworking it probably :raised_hands:.

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I feel compelled to write a separate reply after skimming that nightmare of a blog post. Highlighting and rereading are provably afwul for learning and great for imagining that you are learning (check Make it Stick for support). To aid in making notes and serve as verbatim quotes if need be is the purpose of highlights. Obviously, as a roundup of apps its ok.

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